Pope Alexander VII (1599–1667)

Artist: Melchiorre Cafà (Maltese, 1638–1667)

Founder: Cast by Giovanni Piscina

Date: 1667

Culture: Italian, Rome

Medium: Bronze

Dimensions: Overall (confirmed): 39 1/4 x 34 1/4 x 16 1/2 in., 145 lb. (99.7 x 87 x 41.9 cm, 65.7716 kg)

Classification: Sculpture-Bronze

Credit Line: Edith Perry Chapman Fund, 1957

Accession Number: 57.20


A pupil of Alessandro Algardi, Caffa was one of the principal sculptors in Rome in the generation after him. His bust of Pope Alexander VII displays a new attitude to portraiture in which psychological penetration plays a role. The image confers an air of sober concern on the pontiff, who is remembered, among other things, for commissioning Bernini to design the colonnades of St. Peter's Square and for receiving the visit of Queen Christina of Sweden, a recent convert to Catholicism.